Classroom Retrofit Honors Green Apple Day

COSTA MESA, Calif. — The Davis Magnet School is celebrating the inaugural Green Apple Day of Service in style, by introducing a green test classroom to see if students benefit from a green learning environment. The Green Apple Day of Service, which will be celebrated for the first time on Sept. 29, is an initiative by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), which strives “to put all children in schools where they have clean and healthy air to breath, where energy and resources are conserved, and where they can be inspired to dream of a brighter future.”

The program has already proven successful on the West Coast as four major Seattle sports teams signed on to volunteer their time for the effort. The Mariners, Seahawks, Sounders and Storm all participated in school projects in the run up to the big day, hoping to prompt sports teams in other regions to follow suite.

Irvine, Calif. firm LPA Inc. designed the new classroom at Davis Magnet. The retrofitted classroom was redesigned to take advantage of natural daylight, and features a new ventilation system, after tests found the previous setup was highly inefficient. All materials from paint to flooring have been replaced with sustainable and/or recyclable materials. Monitoring equipment will allow students to see the difference between how much power is consumed when the lights are turned on or off when the room is left empty, or depending on how much the air conditioner is used. The system will also measure the output of the adjacent “normal” classroom, so students can see the difference in energy consumption and cost to the school.

Wendy Rogers, chair of the USGBC’s Orange County Green Schools Committee and a design principal at LPA, explained she saw the project as an improvement from multiple perspectives, as a parent and a professional architect.

“As a mother of two, and someone who designs K-12 schools for a living, I understand the challenges and dwindling budgets our schools are facing. I also know that with 55 million Americans spending six hours a day (or more) in school facilities, we must do a better job creating positive educational environments. Outdated buildings, with little access to daylight, outdated fixtures, and poor ventilation, do little to prepare today’s learners for the future.”

The renovation work was supplied at zero cost to the school, as in-kind donations from various private entities funded everything. LPA gave financial support and its designers’ time, while Disney, McCarthy Building Companies, and Sunbelt Controls also donated time, materials and/or funding.

The school’s principal, Dr. Kevin Rafferty, was thrilled with the project. “To involve two of our classrooms, where we’ll have a controlled classroom and an experimental classroom, and all of the measurements, and data, and information that’s produced — will not only benefit the scientific researchers, but also be fully available to us, as teachers and students, here at the school. The kids will be able to analyze the data, work with it, and look for differences, trends, and patterns. It will be much more meaningful because it’s happening here, and they’re involved with it.”

The school is already considered way ahead of the curve in terms of green immersion, as students participate in recycling, composting, and growing their own food in an instructional garden.

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